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Your Customers' 'Why' Is More Important Than Their 'Want' Stop trying to figure out what your customers want. Figure out why they want.

By Jeff Shore Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're looking for one change to your sales presentation that could help you to have your biggest year ever, try this: Stop trying to figure out what your customer wants.

Related: Never Say These 7 Things in Sales

Too many salespeople become consumed with finding solutions. Their minds race forward to the answers without asking the right questions. Determining what the customer wants is all about what your prospect is moving to. Great salespeople are obsessed with understanding what the customer is moving from.

Here's the new resolution: Start trying to figure out why your customer wants.

Suppose I am selling cars. I can ask about price, model, new versus. used, color, features, financing options, etc. Or I can seek to determine why the customer is looking for a car in the first place. When I answer that why question, the what questions will fall into place.

And if I am selling homes? I can talk about bedroom count, location, price, payment, square feet, amenities, energy efficiency, etc. Or I can figure out what has changed in my customer's life that is prompting a move.

Related: 7 Assumptions Salespeople Should Never Make

You tell me which will be more powerful.

If you're looking for a technique, I would offer it in three parts. Simply re-write the sentences to fit your own presentation.

  • "What first got you thinking about buying a new _________?" Seek to understand the event that triggered the search.
  • "Tell me more about that." You need a follow-up question to go deeper in your understanding of the situation.
  • "How are you feeling about all this?" Get to the emotion -- happy, sad or something else -- before you move forward into a solution discussion.

Please -- I beg you -- stop sounding like the thousands of salespeople who drone on and on about how great their product is. Stop being a "what" salesperson. Become a "why" salesperson.

Get that right, and you'll change someone's world.

Related: How to Evolve From Selling 'Widgets' to 'Wisdom'

Jeff Shore

Entrepreneur, Sales Expert and Author; Founder of Shore Consulting

Jeff Shore, of Shore Consulting, is a sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and consultant whose latest book, Be Bold and Win the Sale: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Boost Your Performance, was published by McGraw-Hill Professional in January 2014.

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